Drugs and Medications that are Ototoxic

Virtually every drug and medication – doctor prescribed or over-the-counter – has a related list of possible side effects (many of which can be very significant). Were you aware that some medications can cause balance problems or hearing loss? These drugs and medications are in wide use, and they’re referred to as ototoxic. Ototoxic drugs include both doctor prescribed or over-the-counter drugs that can damage your hearing and alter your balance. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASLHA), there are more than 200 known medications that may cause temporary or permanent hearing loss and even balance disorders. Quite a few of these ototoxic drugs are in common use, and you’ve most likely heard their names and may even be taking them.

  • Salicylates – Every day pain relievers such as aspirin or aspirin-containing medications contain Salicylates. Tinnitus and hearing loss can be a result of high daily doses (8 or more pills per day) of medicines containing salicylates. Thankfully, the adverse effects disappear once the medication containing the salicylates is stopped.
  • Loop Diuretics – These are typically used in the management of certain kidney conditions, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Potential side effects are tinnitus and hearing loss that you may or may not even notice.
  • NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(known as NSAIDs) can lead to temporary hearing loss and a ringing in the ears in high doses.A couple of widely used NSAIDs are naproxen and ibuprofen.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs – Powerful medicines such as cisplatin, bleomycin, carboplatin and cyclophosphamide are used to treat cancer, but can cause permanent hearing damage. If you have any hearing or balance changes while taking your chemotherapy medications, consult your oncologist.
  • Aminoglycoside Antibiotics – Streptomycin, gentamicin, neomycin, amikacin and kanamycin are just some of the types of aminoglycoside antibiotics prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Complications arise when these drugs generate free radicals, which can destroy the inner ear. Pregnant women should be mindful of possible congenital deafness from taking aminoglycosides during pregnancy.

Increased dosage and/or mixing of these ototoxic medications can increase the risks, but always consult your doctor before adjusting or discontinuing any prescription drugs. To protect your hearing health, talk to your physician for alternatives to known ototoxic medications; if they cannot be avoided, make sure you are taking the appropriate dose precisely as directed.

Deciding upon the Ideal Hearing Aid Design for a Child

It’s an unfortunate reality that many young children experience loss of hearing, but with the most suitable type of hearing aid this does not have to slow them down. On the other hand, the sheer quantity of hearing aid designs and options to choose from can certainly make deciding on the right one challenging for most parents. There are some styles that are more appropriate for youngsters than others, so continue reading to explore what type may work best for your child.

There are two main styles of hearing aids that work well for children: In-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE). Unlike adults, children are continuously growing and developing, making regular hearing aid adjustment critical. ITE and behind-the-ear type hearing aids are often selected for children since they are most easy to fine-tune. Fitted to the child’s outer ear, ITE hearing aids are small devices in plastic cases. Additional solutions including telecoil can be built into this type of product. BTE hearing aids tend to be more identifiable because of their plastic case that sits behind the ear. A little piece of tubing joins the case to an earmold that rests in the outer ear. Both styles of devices can address an array of hearing issues.

Hearing aid selection is often more difficult if your child suffers other medical conditions. As an example, behind-the-ear hearing aids might not fit appropriately on children whose ears are misshapen. For some children, a very shallow ear canal might not present enough space to allow for in-the-ear hearing aids. Children with an extreme build-up of ear wax may not be good candidates for ITE devices given that it can interfere with the device performance.

Meeting with your child’s hearing specialist is a vital step in selecting a hearing aid for your child. He or she will lead you through your selections and make recommendations determined by your child’s unique situation. Learning about your role in optimizing your child’s hearing can also be given by your specialist. Removing, inserting, or fine-tuning the volume of your child’s hearing aids to ensure they are comfortable may be your responsibility if your child is young.

While finding the right hearing aid can be confusing and discouraging, with time and research you will find the perfect product for your child.

Astonishing Hearing Loss Facts and Data

Do you have a family member or friend that needs a hearing aid (or at least a hearing test) but won’t go along with your suggestions? Chatting about some of the statistics related to the prevalence, causes and effects of hearing loss may finally get them to make that initial appointment. These facts and stats could help you persuade someone you care about that it is time to schedule a hearing evaluation:

  • The number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled in the last 3 decades.
  • More men than women experience hearing loss.
  • Approximately 36 million people in the United States have some sort of hearing loss, which is almost one out of every five people.
  • Roughly 13% of the population over age 65 will experience tinnitus – ringing in the ears.
  • Many more people could benefit from a hearing aid than in fact wear one. Some estimates say there are 4 additional people who could benefit, for every 1 actually using a hearing aid.
  • Ten million people have permanent loss of hearing due to noise, and 30 million more are exposed to dangerous noise levels every day.
  • Close to 13,000 adults and 10,000 children in the US have cochlear implants.
  • Research studies have indicated that those with hearing loss experience it as mild in 65% of cases, moderate in 30% of cases and severe in 5% of cases.
  • High frequency hearing loss caused by recurring loud noise exposure affects about 26 million people in the US (ages 20-69). This includes regular noise exposure from both work and leisure sources.
  • People with hearing loss wait close to a decade before doing anything about it. Don’t let this be you or someone you love!

Overview of the 5 Primary Forms of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is labeled in a variety of ways. The exact part of the auditory pathway affected determines the categorization. The hearing loss may be conductive, senorineural, central, functional or mixed. Certain forms of hearing impairment are more treatable than others, and a trained hearing care specialist will be able to show you your choices after an initial evaluation.

Conductive hearing loss – In situations where sound waves are not adequately conducted to the interior of the ear through the parts of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss arises. This is very common and can be due to a buildup of ear wax, a buildup of moisture in the eustacian tube, which keeps the eardrum from moving properly, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the tiny bones of the middle ear and other obstructions in the ear canal.

Most instances of this type of hearing loss are reversible, assuming there isn’t any irreversible damage to the structures of the middle ear, and with proper treatment the issue usually resolves fairly quickly. In some cases a surgical procedure can help to correct the condition or a hearing aid may be fitted.

Sensorineural hearing loss – This type of hearing loss accounts for more than 90% of the situations in which a hearing aid is worn. Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of damage in the interior of the ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which keeps sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also known as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the damage is more often than not permanent, although improvements in modern technology have made it possible for some previously untreatable cases to see some improvement.

The most common reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, prolonged exposure to noise, complications with blood flow to the inner ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, drugs that cause injury to the ear, some diseases, genetics and issues with the auditory nerve.

Hearing aids are adequate for the majority of people that have this kind of hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant can help bring back hearing to those individuals for whom a typical hearing aid is not enough.

Functional hearing loss – An infrequent occurrence, functional hearing loss is not physical. This condition is due to an emotional or psychological condition in which the person’s physical hearing is normal, but they are not able to hear.Central hearing loss – This condition occurs when a problem in the CNS (central nervous system) keeps sound signals from being processed and interpreted by the brain. Affected individuals can seemingly hear just fine, but cannot decode or decipher what the speaker is saying. Numerous cases involve a problem with the person’s capacity to adequately filter rivaling sounds. For example, most of us can hold a conversation while there is traffic noise in the background, but people with central hearing loss have a difficult time doing so.

Mixed hearing loss – As suggested by the term, mixed hearing loss is a mixture of multiple types of hearing loss – conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Though there are a couple of other types of hearing loss, the combination of these two is most common.

Fact or Fiction – Surplus Ear Wax Leads to Loss Of Hearing

What we call ear wax develops because our ear canals are covered with hair follicles and glands that generate an oily wax called cerumen. The reason for this wax is to line the inner surface of the ear canal and protect it by gathering up bacteria, dirt and dust, and miroorganisms. Ear wax also helps to prevent irritation when the sensitive skin of the ear canal is exposed to moisture; Thus, the production of ear wax is both natural and healthy.

In the majority of people, ear wax ultimately makes its way to the outer areas of the ear, where it either falls out or is rinsed away when we clean our ears. However, the glands in certain people’s ears generate more wax than usual. Because of this, the wax builds up and may harden, blocking the ear canal and preventing sound waves from getting to your inner ear. The accumulation of ear wax is one of the most widespread causes of hearing loss, in people of any age.

The signs and symptoms of a blockage caused by excess ear wax include feeling as if your ears are clogged up, hearing a ringing noise (tinnitus), and a partial loss of hearing, which becomes worse over time. This is a type of conductive (as opposed to sensorineural) hearing loss, where the sound waves are blocked from reaching the eardrum. Thankfully, this grounds for hearing loss is easily identified and remedied.

If the signs and symptoms in the list above sound familiar to you, see us in our clinic where any of our team members can perform pain-free assessments to see whether you do indeed have an excess accumulation of ear wax. If it is, an excessive buildup of ear wax is readily treated, either at home or at the clinic.

If a hearing specialist says that you have excess ear wax that is obstructing your ear canal, you can take steps to remove it yourself in your own home. Do not attempt to use a Q-tip, which can cause the ear wax to become even more compacted. Instead, add a few drops of baby oil, glycerin, mineral oil, or commercial ear drops designed for this purpose to each ear, let them remain in the ear for a couple of minutes to loosen up the wax, and then rinse the loosened wax out, using water at body temperature. (Note: using either hot or cold water to flush your ears can lead to feelings of vertigo or dizziness.) Pharmacies sell small bulb-like syringes that can be used to flush the ear after the wax has been loosened, aiding the process. Two more things not to do are to 1) use a jet irrigator like a WaterPik because its spray is too powerful and might cause damage to your eardrums, and 2) use any kind of irrigation at home if you know for sure that you have a punctured eardrum.

If these home remedies don’t seem to clear up the blockage, call or visit us for assistance.

Curious about the Speech Banana? Discover What It Is and Why It Is Important

“Speech bananas” are not mid-day snacks for hearing specialists.The thing that the term “speech banana” represents is a particular pattern found in the results of an audiogram, which is a graphical chart used to measure someone’s hearing proficiency within a set range of frequencies and volume levels. Audiograms are typically charted with the frequency level ( in Hertz) on one the x axis and loudness level (measured in Decibels) on the other axis.

When the standard sounds of human speech – or phonemes – are plotted on this kind of audiogram, they tend to all cluster inside an region of the graph that is shaped like a banana. The spoken sounds of nearly all letters of the alphabet plus the letter combinations th, ch, sh, and ng all cluster within this area.

For those who have normal hearing, you can hear sounds inside this area, but can also hear higher-frequency sounds such as a mosquito or leaves rustling and lower-frequency sounds such as tubas or machinery. However the sounds that are most critical to our communications with other individuals are the sounds we generate when speaking. Hearing loss often strikes this speech banana area, which results in people having trouble hearing or understanding the letter combinations ch, sh, th and ng.

As a result, audiologists are most focused on hearing loss that happens within the region of the speech banana. Whether the individual is old or young, if they are having difficulty hearing sounds within that frequency and volume range, they are almost by definition having trouble hearing speech, and thus have problems communicating properly with other people.

The range of spoken sounds captured by the speech banana is so critical to communications, that many school districts mandate hearing checks using audiograms to identify hearing impairments in this region. Since this range of sounds is so essential to human communications it is the range that most hearing aids are tuned and programmed for. Irrespective of whether you presently wear hearing aids or not, contact us if you have questions about your hearing ability in the speech banana frequency and volume range.

Tinnitus in Your Ears? Music Can Help You

Sound is an integral part of our world, but like most things, its impact on us depends on both the quality of the sounds we hear, and the quantity of them. Listening to music can be soothing and relaxing, but it can also be annoying and irritating if the volume is excessive.

When it comes to music and other sounds, quality is subjective, one that depends on individual preferences; the quantity of it (as measured by volume, in decibels), however, is incredibly objective, and can be measured. We know that when people are exposed to very loud sounds or music above a specific decibel level for prolonged amounts of time, those sounds can harm the miniature hair cells in our ears, and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). It has been estimated that in our raucous society, as many as one in five Americans have developed some amount of tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears) or other forms of hearing loss as the result of NIHL. Even muted sounds below 10 decibels (half the volume of a whisper) may cause stress and anxiety if you are exposed to them long enough; have you ever been kept awake at night by the sound of a dripping faucet or ticking clock?

But despite the fact that sound can be a cause of stress and hearing damage, it can also be a tool to treat the effects of hearing damage. Many people have experienced the soothing effects of soft music, the relaxing sound of falling water or ocean surf, or the meditative sounds of chanting or Tibetan singing bowls. Increasingly, these types of sounds are being used by psychologists to treat anxiety rather than create it, and by audiologists to treat hearing problems such as tinnitus rather than cause them. In hospitals and clinical situations, music therapy has been successfully used to accelerate recovery from operations, to aid stroke victims during their recovery, and to impede the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. People have successfully used white noise generators (which create a blend of frequencies similar to the sound of ocean surf) to help people conquer insomnia and sleep disorders, and to reduce their perceived awareness of background sounds in noisy environments.

More specifically related to hearing loss, sound and music therapy is being used more and more to treat tinnitus by creating what specialists call a threshold shift, which allows tinnitus patients to psychologically disguise the constant buzzing or ringing sounds they hear. By using specialized tones or carefully chosen music tracks, hearing specialists have been able to teach tinnitus patients to retrain their minds to choose the sounds they want to hear over the ringing sounds caused by the tinnitus. It’s not as if the ringing disappears; it’s more that the music therapy has allowed them to focus their attention somewhere else, and thus no longer feel the anxiety and stress that tinnitus causes.

For tinnitus sufferers seeking new remedies, music therapy is worth looking at. Give us a call to go over your specific situation.

Are Hearing Impairment and Alzheimer’s Connected?

If you have some type of hearing impairment, do you ever find that listening to people speak is work, and that you need to try hard to understand what people say? You are not alone. The feeling that listening and understanding is tiring work is typical among individuals with hearing loss – even those that wear hearing aids.

Unfortunately, the repercussions of this sensation may not be limited to loss of hearing function; it may also be related to declines in cognitive abilities. In the latest studies, researchers have discovered that hearing loss substantially raises your chances of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A 16-year research study of this link from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine included 639 participants between the ages of 36 and 90. The data indicated that 58 study volunteers – 9 percent – had developed dementia and 37 – 6% – had developed Alzheimer’s. The degree of hearing loss was positively correlated with the likelihood of developing either condition. For every ten decibel further hearing loss, the risk of developing dementia increased 20%.

A different 16-year research study with 1,984 participants revealed a similar connection between dementia and hearing loss, but also identified noticeable decline in cognitive function in the hearing-impaired. In comparison to individuals with normal hearing, those with hearing impairment developed memory loss 40 percent faster. A vital, but disconcerting, conclusion in each of the two studies was that the negative cognitive effects were not diminished by using hearing aids. A number of hypotheses have been put forth to explain this apparent relationship between hearing loss and loss of cognitive performance. One of these explanations is related to the question that began this article, about having to work harder to hear; this has been termed cognitive overload. The cognitive overload theory suggests that the hearing-impaired individual expends so much brain energy trying to hear, that the brain is tired and has a diminished capacity to comprehend and absorb verbal information. Maintaining a two-way conversation requires comprehension. A lack of understanding causes conversations to break down and might bring about social isolation. Another idea is that neither hearing loss nor dementia cause the other, but that they’re both linked to an as-yet-undiscovered disease mechanism – possibly vascular, possibly genetic, possibly environmental – that causes both.

Although the person with hearing impairment probably finds these study results dismaying, there is a bright side with valuable lessons to be derived from them.If you wear hearing aids, visit your audiologist regularly to keep them fitted, adjusted, and programmed correctly, so that you are not straining to hear. The less effort used in the mechanics of hearing, the more brain power available for comprehension. Also, if hearing loss is related to dementia, knowing this may bring about interventional techniques that can avert its development.

Promising Research Into Regenerating Inner Ear Hair Cells

Many of the problems that cause hearing problems in our patients cannot be reversed which can be quite frustrating for our hearing professionals. One of the main reasons for hearing loss, for example, is damage to the tiny hair cells in our inner ears that vibrate in reaction to sound waves. These vibrations are interpreted by the brain into what we call hearing.

The sensitivity of these tiny hair cells enables them to vibrate in such a manner, and thus makes it possible for us to hear, but their very sensitivity makes them extremely fragile, and at risk of damage. This damage may occur as the result of aging, certain medications, infections, and by extended exposure to high-volume noises, resulting in noise-induced hearing loss. In humans, once these hair cells are damaged or destroyed, they cannot be regenerated or “fixed.” Since we cannot reverse the damage, hearing professionals and audiologists turn to technology instead. We make up for hearing loss due to inner ear hair cell damage with hearing aids and cochlear implants.

This would not be true if humans were more like fish and chickens. Unlike humans, some fish species and birds have the ability to regenerate their damaged inner ear hair cells and regain their lost hearing. Bizarre, but true. Zebra fish and chickens are just 2 examples of species that have the capacity to automatically replicate and replace their damaged inner ear hair cells, thus allowing them to fully recover from hearing loss.

While it is crucial to point out at the outset that the following research is in its beginning stages and that no practical benefits for humans have yet been achieved, sizeable breakthroughs in the treatment of hearing loss may come in the future as the result of the innovative Hearing Restoration Project (HRP). The not-for-profit organization, Hearing Health Foundation, is currently conducting research at laboratories in Canada and the United States Working to isolate the molecules that allow the replication and regeneration in some animals, HRP researchers hope to find some way to stimulate human inner ear hair cells to do the same.

Because there are so many distinct compounds involved in the regeneration process – some that facilitate replication, some that hinder it – the scientists’ work is slow-moving and challenging. But their hope is that if they can identify the molecules that stimulate this regeneration process to happen in avian and fish cochlea, they can find a way to stimulate it to happen in human cochlea. Some of the HRP researchers are pursuing gene therapies as a way to stimulate such regrowth, while others are working on stem cell-based approaches.

Although this work is still in the early stages, our staff wishes them quick success so that their results can be extended to humans. Absolutely nothing would be more satisfying than to be able to offer our hearing loss patients a true cure.

Tinnitus Indications and Warning Signs

Tinnitus is defined by The American Tinnitus Association as the condition in which a person hears sounds that most often no one else can hear. It is a condition that seems to be related to age (most cases appear after the age of 50), and is much more common in men than in women. An estimated 50 million Americans have tinnitus; for some reason more of them in the South than other parts of the country.

Tinnitus can be of different types, and those who experience it may hear very different types of sounds. Subjective tinnitus is the most common, and is defined as the person hearing sounds that no one else can hear; objective tinnitus is much more rare, and is indicated when a doctor or audiologist can also detect these sounds. Other less common types of tinnitus include 1) hearing low-frequency sounds, often mistaken for being actual sounds in the environment, 2) pulsatile tinnitus, in which the person hears rhythmic beats in time with their pulse, and 3) musical hallucinations, or hearing music that is not really present.

The most common symptom of tinnitus is a persistent, almost-always present, high-pitched ringing noise in one or both ears. Though this is the most commonly heard sound others hear buzzing, clicking, whistling, roaring and hissing that can increase and decrease in pitch and volume. If you have mild tinnitus, you might tend to notice it only in quiet environments, because the ambient sounds of noisy environments can mask the buzzing or ringing sounds. Some experience the symptoms of tinnitus more when they are lying down or sitting, as opposed to standing up. Although for most people tinnitus is more a nuisance than anything else, for some it has severe repercussions: they may suffer increased levels of stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Some tinnitus sufferers have complained that the condition made it more difficult for them to concentrate or sleep.

Tinnitus can be diagnosed by one of our specialists by performing a short, painless examination. Scheduling an appointment is highly recommended, because sometimes tinnitus can be an indicator of serious disease conditions such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and Meniere’s disease, or indicate more serious forms of hearing loss.

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.